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Painting a New Life

Musings of the Day

Invoking the Warrior

This post is about the many physical, spiritual, and emotional battles I have waged over the years, and the scars and wounds I received in fighting them. I use the words “wounded warrior” throughout, and it is in no way meant to directly compare my experiences with those brave men and women who have served and literally been wounded in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places of great danger.

We are all wounded in some way…this is just my story.

“I am a warrior, wounded, one whose will is in service to the deepest yearnings of my heart.”

Long ago I battled with a will in service to fear and anger. I fought and survived, but the battles left me scarred and deeply wounded. Over the years healing from my wounds, I began to see myself as less than, damaged and weakened. Until now I had failed to see the beauty in my scars.

Perhaps it took those years for my wounds to heal enough for scars to form, now enabling me to view them with compassion and wisdom. Some healed over, but changed me forever and I’m aware that some might still require extra care. They are no longer festering though.

The years I’ve spent digging out the dirt and grime from each wound, tending to them, and shedding tears over my losses, have been well spent. I have done the hard work, the courageous work, of bearing witness to atrocities. I went back to the battlefield and felt the horror once again. I made peace with the enemy. And I opened my heart to my own suffering, felt the grief and terror throughout my body with the courage of a warrior. Because that is who I am—a warrior.

For years I saw myself as a strong and able fighter, but when the war had taken me to my lowest point, I struggled with shame. What is a warrior’s worth without something to fight for? What is left of a warrior who is no longer capable of battle? I wondered if my wounds had done too much damage and the length of time too long to ever recoup what had been lost. Was it too late? I saw myself as weak, no longer fit for any kind of fight. Surrender became my only option. So I did. I learned what surrender truly meant, opening my heart and asking in earnest for help. It came in the form of more wounds revealed to heal, more work to be done. Help came, but it didn’t appear to be the answer to my prayers. Healing doesn’t always come easily or painlessly.

I sit here today with a greater awareness what it means to be a wounded warrior. I asked for guidance and help, and I asked that it be given with gentleness and ease. I have suffered enough for one lifetime. This is what came. A new vision of myself. A new appreciation for who I am. And a new understanding of what a wounded warrior is.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Ernest Hemingway

I have been broken over and over again. Now, as a wounded warrior, I am stronger than ever before. Not in the way of a young warrior who fights on will alone, but in the way of a wise warrior who fights for a cause that emanates from her heart. My wounds have healed and left me with great compassion, a resilient spirit, courage and awareness. My roots run deeper into life itself as a result of being wounded, like an old tree who has weathered many storms. My scars are badges of honor, each a symbol of a battle fought, some won, some not, but each leaving me wiser and richer in character. Though some might have left me weaker in body, they have strengthened me in all other ways. These other ways are the keys to my next battle.

Can an old, wounded warrior, damaged and broken, ever live a full life again? Can what has been lost be regained? Is it too late and the damage too severe? And wouldn’t it just be easier to give up and not go back to war?

My answer is clear. I have another war to wage, this one a battle for my life in a very different way. And this time fought as a warrior who fights for the yearnings of her heart. For there is nothing stronger, no cause greater, and no other fight worth dying for like this one. I might die fighting, but this time I will die knowing that I have given my life everything I had to give. My heart is more courageous as a result of my wounds. My heart is fiercer, too. I am wiser and though I know the evidence is overwhelming to the contrary, my heart says fight anyway.

I am a warrior to the end, this time fighting to give myself the capability of embodying my truth in every way. I will probably lose a few battles along the way, but the truth is that my life and the ability to live it the way I dream of living it, is worth a few losses. If I say yes to my dream of health and vitality, of freedom from pain, of freedom of movement, of the simple ability to enjoy my life, then ultimately any possibility that exists will become a probability. It will become more likely, and in the process, my spirit will return. Giving in and giving up will kill me, because without my spirit and will there is really very little left to live for. It will be a hollow life. Any life worth living for me is one worth fighting for until the end.

My old identity has died. The old warrior is now the wounded warrior, wiser and deeper for the wounds I’ve endured and the scars I bear. I have become a wounded warrior with a will in service to the deepest yearnings of my heart. Guided by love. Spirited by my dreams. Fighting once again for truth.

The painting above is entitled “Invocation.” I created it over the course of eight months, not realizing at the time that I was painting an image of my future. Perhaps this has been my way of receiving guidance, of foretelling my future. My experience has been that I paint it first and then years later it becomes the reality of my life. The warrior goddess in this painting is fierce and courageous, and she fights with all her heart. She has been called forth from nothing to wage every battle necessary to live her truth. If I have ever painted a self-portrait this is it, waiting for me to be ready to embody what I had created.

"Invocation is available for purchase as an original triptych or a fine art print. At the present time it hangs on the wall in my studio, a constant reminder of who I am.

2 ความคิดเห็น

Susan McLaughlin Rosen
Susan McLaughlin Rosen
11 เม.ย. 2565

I hope you are actually at the place of being you that I can see dancing in Invocation. Lucky you, that you choreographed yourself right into such a joyful, spirited world. I got goose bumps viewing and reading about your work and healing; and that is the highest compliment I can pay anybody. xo

12 เม.ย. 2565

Susan, You have been such an incredible support throughout this journey. One of the most important pieces in healing is having others who can mirror back at me the truth of who I am, others who fully receive the words and images that come from my heart. You continue to do that so beautifully. I wish I could put my arms around you and give you the hug that is in my heart.

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